Prosecution Mistake Results in Murder Conviction Being Overturned

Nov 25, 2015
The Court of Appeal in the case of R v Hillman and Gowans [2015] EWCA Crim 952 have quashed the murder conviction of two men owing to a basic procedural error being made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  

On 29 January 2000 Mr Vytautas Jelinskas, who was working as a pizza delivery man was robbed and injured. Mr Jelinskas suffered severe brain damage as a result of kicking, and fell into a coma. Gowans and Hillman pleaded guilty to robbery and were convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and were sentenced to custodial terms. However, Mr Jelinskas developed an infection and died of septicaemia resulting from an infection on the day after they were sentenced. The pair were charged with murder and were subsequently convicted on 24th August 2001. 

The single ground of appeal was that the Prosecution failed to obtain the Attorney-General's consent to institute proceedings as required by the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1986.

The court ruled that the conviction and judgment be set aside and annulled and ordered that a new trial take place on the charge of murder. 

The court expressed its regret that considerable public funds, in the original trial and appeal, should have been wasted because of such a procedural error.

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